While each of us is a citizen of a country and subject to a local, state (province), and national government, we are also part of a spiritual kingdom. It is either the kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness, and there is a definite conflict between the two. The kingdom of darkness is the realm of the devil, the father of lies (John 8:44), the master deceiver from the beginning (Genesis 3:1; II Corinthians 11:3), the “enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 13:10), and the enemy of all “children of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:38-39). His only purpose is “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). We get a glimpse of the ultimate consequence of his kingdom in the Book of Revelation. For example, in chapter 16 it states:
And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. (Revelation 16:9-11)
In contrast, the kingdom of light is the kingdom of God, also termed the kingdom of heaven. It is the kingdom of Jesus Christ and His kingdom is one of joy, peace, love, righteousness, life, and power. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossian believers that they would “walk worthy of the Lord,” and be “strengthened with all might.”
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:10, 11, 12-14)
Both kingdoms are present kingdoms, but they are also eternal kingdoms. They are not physical kingdoms like civil governments, but are spiritual kingdoms. Both kingdoms have a ruler and both kingdoms have rules, or ways the kingdoms work. The Scriptures clearly tell us that we are in the kingdom of darkness until we choose to enter the kingdom of light by faith in Jesus Christ, who redeems all who believe.
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46)
[God called Paul to minister to the Gentiles and] to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Romans 13:12)
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (I Thessalonians 5:5)
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9)
While physically on earth, Jesus spent all his time preaching the “gospel of the kingdom” of God (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14) and doing the works of the kingdom of heaven. “Gospel” means “good news” and Jesus described the nature of the kingdom, the location of the kingdom, how to enter into the kingdom, and the rewards of the kingdom.
The first thing Jesus said in his public ministry is “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). It is important to note that these were also the words of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus (Matthew 3:2-3) by calling people to repentance, which is the first step to entering into the kingdom of heaven.
It is important to emphasize that entrance into the kingdom of heaven cannot be attained by good works, or earning your way into the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is a gift to those who believe and receive it as a child. Jesus said:
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. (Luke 18:17)
The kingdom of God is not of this world (John 18:36), i.e. of this world’s systems and physical limitations. The kingdom is near you (Matthew 4:17). It is a kingdom within you (Luke 17:21) and it is one of power (I Corinthians 4:20). It “is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).
The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that is beyond physical life. It is a kingdom that begins in the heart or inner being of a person. When a child of the kingdom (Matthew 13:38) dies, his or her soul enters into a new dimension of the kingdom, a dimension without a physical body. Then the kingdom of heaven becomes paradise. As Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross, “Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Have you entered into the kingdom of heaven through humble repentance of sin and affirmative acceptance of the forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus Christ as the one who came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10)? Are you living in the righteousness, peace, and joy of the kingdom of heaven? Take time to study these and other Scriptures on the kingdom of God. The gospel of the kingdom is truly great news. In future weeks, we will look at different aspects of the kingdom of God.